Unorthodox Matt Wright trey finishes off Hotshots and takes Fuel Masters to Final Four; Bolts dethrone Beermen
Matthew Wright hit a one-legged runner from beyond the arc to give Phoenix Super LPG the lead to stay at 89-88 with 8.9 ticks left to play in its quarterfinal match against perennial PBA Philippine Cup title contender Magnolia on Saturday night, the dagger shot that brought the curtains down on the Hotshots’ campaign and opened a world of possibilities for the Fuel Masters in the pro league’s unique season.
It turned out to be the shot the Fuel Masters needed to advance to the Final Four, where another rock-solid side in TNT—a squad tipped as a solid choice for the all-Filipino crown—awaits and where no one is writing off Phoenix as it chases a first-ever title series appearance.
Another surprise semifinalist was Meralco, which dethroned five-time champion San Miguel Beer, 90-68, in the only game on Sunday night at Angeles University Foundation powered by Smart 5G.
The Bolts thus advanced opposite Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-five series where they will have a chance to slay the ghosts of two Finals losses to the Gin Kings.
“Honestly I just blacked out,” Wright told reporters here of the winning shot at Angeles University Foundation powered by Smart 5G. “I’m just grateful coach Topex (Robinson) kind of got me free … and I said, ‘Oh, I had to make something happen.’ Sometimes it goes in, sometimes it doesn’t. We got lucky, we got … this one.”
And as far as shots are concerned, Wright, who finished with 32 points to sustain a showing that has been nothing short of stellar for the Fuel Masters this conference, hopes that that is the one shot that the Phoenix franchise needs to finally step into the ranks of the league’s elite teams.
“Sometimes all it takes is one shot for a franchise to go from nothing to something. Hopefully, this is the shot that propels Phoenix.”
Wright’s shot put away an opponent in Phoenix’ first try at a semifinal seat—a fitting blow against a tough-as-nails Magnolia side that has won its last six games in the bubble and has also made the Finals here the past two seasons.
For young rookie coach Topex Robinson, the victory also gives his rugged band of overachievers something valuable for their clash against the Tropang Giga.
“(That game) [gave] us a sobering good experience that we’re gonna bring as we go along in the semis,” he said in the customary winning coach’s interview. “(This is all) just magical for us, We’re just so blessed to be here and be able to grind it out with one of the best teams.”
And while Wright and Robinson have expressed their readiness against another league heavyweight, both also feel they still have plenty to show.
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